Kanawha County Commission approves new West Side voting location

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Commission has voted to move ahead with a new early voting location on Charleston’s West Side.

The precinct will be at the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond County building on Virginia Street West.

The Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee has challenged the location in recent days. The State Election Commission also advised Secretary of State Mac Warner to seek a legal opinion from the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office on the rule which says county party executive leaders must approve early voting locations.

The commission went ahead and approved the precinct anyway during a special meeting Thursday morning.

Commissioner Ben Salango said the law is on the commission’s side.

“I’m very confident in our legal position. We’ve received four different legal opinions. All four of which indicate that what we’re doing is lawful,” Salango said.

Commissioner Lance Wheeler agreed and said this should not be a legal battle.

“I see no reason for us to go over to a court system and ask them to give us their opinion. We know what they’re opinion is. It’s the law which we are following,” he said.

Early voting typically draws in large crowds to the downtown Charleston site. Commission President Kent Carper said opening a new voting site would give county residents more options.

“This to simply have an opportunity for people to avoid long lines on Election Day and legally vote. You don’t have to be from the West Side. You can be from Cross Lanes and vote there,” Carper said.

Carper added the new location would benefit the county during big election years.

“This primary, it won’t make much difference. This General Election, probably it won’t make much of a difference,” he said. “I’ll tell you when it’s going to make a difference. It’s going to make a difference in the next presidential election.”

The Primary Election in West Virginia is May 10.